After taking some maternity photos for my good friend Claire just over a month ago, last weekend I had the privilege of being invited into her family’s home in the heart of a tiny village in Staffordshire, just seven days after her beautiful baby girl had been born, to capture them together in a newborn photoshoot.
They named her Emilia, meaning ‘to strive or excel’ and at one week new she is the most relaxed baby I’ve ever come across.
Newborn photography is an artform, and one I have not been trained in. There are specific ways to pose the baby, particular editing techniques to smooth out the skin tones and hundreds of cute props you can use to add to the adorable-ness (is that a word?!) of the new baby. You need specific equipment – lighting, backdrops etc… – and an absolute ton of patience to capture the beautiful images you’ll so often see gracing the walls of proud new parents. I hugely admire all photographers (I know several personally) who specialise in this area – they make it look effortlessly easy when it most definitely is not.
As a documentary photographer, my goal wasn’t to capture those perfect poses. As beautiful as they are, I find much more beauty in the raw, perfectly imperfect, messy days after birth, where Mum is still finding her rhythm with feeding, Dad is just as bleary-eyed from lack of sleep and siblings are still super-excited and lovingly exuberant towards their new little brother or sister. It’s real. And it’s so often swept under the carpet – how hard it is, how chaotic it can feel, the emotions that are swirling around the home. People don’t want to see that part of the story, but to me, that’s the part I want to remember the most. That’s such a key part of the story of a new baby and I think it deserves to be captured.
Claire knew that I’d be with them for a couple of hours, quietly documenting their every day, their new routine, them finding their way around this tiny new addition to the family. They welcomed me into their beautiful home with open arms (literally – I got enveloped in bear hugs as soon as I walked through the front door) and we simply sat and chatted as I captured them. Emilia fed and had her nappy changed; Bella and Lucas (Emilia’s big sister and brother) alternated between looking on in amazement, showering Mum and baby with cuddles & kisses, and gleefully playing; Claire’s husband David was lovingly attentive and supportive; and Claire sat in the middle of it all by the roaring fire, the winter sunlight streaming in through the windows, snuggling her baby and sipping her tea as she told me her birth story.
I loved every second of it and whilst it certainly wasn’t the easiest photoshoot I’ve ever done it felt incredibly right to be doing it. I feel so very lucky to have been given the opportunity to capture this raw vulnerability and intimacy and it’s definitely something I want to do more of as time goes on. These moments feel like they last forever when you’re in the middle of them, but they truly are gone in the blink of an eye.
And finally, I had to include this one (below). Bella was absolutely fascinated with my camera and I let her have a little play around with it. She snapped a few shots of her Mum and Dad and the photos captured their love so beautifully that I couldn’t leave them out. This one was my favourite – slightly out of focus but I don’t think that matters in the slightest, because, well, just look!
If you’re interested in finding out more about having an in-home newborn session, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.